Estimada em mais de 600 anos de idade, o carvalho branco gigante (Quercus alba) que paira sobre o cemitério da Igreja Presbiteriana de Basking Ridge, em New Jersey, EUA, brotou folhas somente em seus ramos mais baixos nesta primavera. Os ramos médios e superiores, que se estendem para o céu, permaneceram sem folhas e aparentemente sem vida.
O Rev. Dennis Jones, pastor da igreja, disse que a igreja foi construída naquele lugar simplesmente porque a árvore estava lá e toda a cidade foi construída em torno da igreja. Ele quer fazer tudo que pode para saber o que está acontecendo e explorar todas as opções disponíveis para ajudar a árvore.

basking-ridge-oak-quercus-alba

 

Atualmente, a igreja está em consulta ativa com os vários especialistas reconhecidos para formular um plano de ação. A preocupação também é com a segurança, na eventualidade de troncos secarem e caírem, pois a árvore é muito grande.
Este carvalho é rotineiramente mencionado em qualquer narrativa sobre o município, tem sido uma parte importante da identidade da comunidade. É um importante marco histórico da comunidade e a esperança de todos é a crença de que a igreja vai fazer todos os esforços para salvar a árvore.

 

A árvore antecede o primeiro assentamento europeu na área e remonta aos dias em que os índios Lenni-Lenape eram os principais habitantes.
Em 1717, um pequeno grupo de colonos presbiterianos escoceses construiu a primeira igreja do município ao lado da árvore de carvalho. Essa estrutura foi substituída por uma igreja maior em 1749, e por sua vez foi substituído pelo atual edifício de tijolo em 1839.
Em 1736, os enterros começaram a serem feitos no cemitério circundante. Entre aqueles enterrados, estão 35 veteranos da Guerra Revolucionária.
Durante a Revolução Americana, o general George Washington e soldados do Exército Continental descansaram sob a árvore.

basking-ridge-oak-quercus-alba-image

O grande Carvalho Branco, como é chamado (The Great White Oak) tem gozado de um status de celebridade e tem sido frequentemente visitado por estudantes florestais da Universidade de Rutgers. Estima-se sua aktura em 30 metros, um diâmetro de tronco de 6 metros e os ramosse propagandopor  42 metros de extenção.
Os esforços para preservar o carvalho sempre foram uma prioridade. No século passado, a Igreja Presbiteriana contratou uma equipe de cinco especialistas para cuidar dele por várias semanas a um custo muito alto. A equipe cortou áreas deterioradas e encontrou uma cavidade grande o suficiente para caberem dentro quatro homens. Eles encheram o buraco com mais de três toneladas de concreto especialmente preparados para tal.
Além disso, foram instalados cabos de arame galvanizado para segurar os longos galhos. Foram feitos buracos estratégicos para infiltrar quase uma tonelada de fertilizante, para garantir que as raízes recebessem nutrição adequada.

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Os especialistas acreditavam que a árvore viveria assim por mais quatro séculos, mas as preocupações surgiram novamente em junho de 1984, quando um grande galho foi derrubado num acidente com um caminhão.
Essa árvore tem significado especial para muitas pessoas, dizem que ela simboliza a igreja e a chamam de Santo Carvalho.  Em 2006 fizeram uma venda das bolotas (castanhas) da árvore para arrecadar fundos para reformar o cemitério a 100 dólares cada uma.
Conseguiram o dinheiro, vendendo todas e até hoje recebem pedidos e ligações de todo país pedindo as bolotas, chamadas de bebês-carvalho (baby-oaks).
Um especialista declarou que a condição atual é devido a uma mudança repentina na acidez do solo e escreveu uma receita para tratamentos químicos a ser aplicada de forma a ajudar a estimular a atividade raiz, mas a razão principal talvez seja a compactação do solo ao redor da árvore.  Construiram uma passarela e todo mundo circula por ali, na grama no cemitério.
O especialista também observou que as sequóias gigantes da Califórnia são visitadas por milhões de residentes, mas eles não permitem que as pessoas andem em volta delas para evitar a compactação do solo. O reverendo, por sua vez, afirma que sendo uma comunidade de fé, todos acreditam que todos os seres vivos tem seu tempo nesta terra, mas que o tempo do carvalho ainda não chegou ao seu fim.

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